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May 20, 2009

Video: CW’s ‘Life Unexpected’ and ‘Body Politic’

The CW announces its 2009-2010 schedule tomorrow and while it’s a sure thing that “Vampire Diaries,” “The Beautiful Life” and “Melrose Place” will be joining the network’s fall slate, midseason is a little less clear.

Among the midseason contenders are “Life Unexpected” (starring Shiri Appleby, Kerr Smith and Brittany Robertson) and “The Body Politic” (starring Minka Kelly, Jay Hernandez, Jason Dohring and Gabrielle Union). Their fate may be uncertain at the moment, but you can check out scenes after the jump from their pilots, which may be The CW’s next new show or simply development season’s leftovers.

You can also watch previews of “Vampire Diaries,” “Beautiful Life” and “Melrose Place” at TVWeek’s New Season Preview Player, which is part of our Upfront Navigator. Episodic and cast photos from the pilots can be viewed here.

Continue reading "Video: CW’s ‘Life Unexpected’ and ‘Body Politic’" »

Behind the Scenes on CBS’ Fall Shows

CBS unveiled its fall schedule today, including several new dramas, a new sitcom and, of course, the return of Alex O’Loughlin (“Moonlight”).

Mr. O’Loughlin stars in the medical drama “Three Rivers,” which joins “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “The Good Wife” on CBS’ new drama slate. On the comedy side, Jenna Elfman stars in “Accidentally on Purpose.”

Check out behind-the-scenes trailers after the jump.

All sneak peeks and preview clips from the broadcast networks are available on TVWeek’s Fall Preview Player, which is continuously updated as part of the Upfront Navigator.

Continue reading "Behind the Scenes on CBS’ Fall Shows" »

May 19, 2009

Check Out Fall Shows From ABC, NBC

ABC and NBC have announced their schedules for the 2009-10 TV season, and TVWeek has the sneak peeks.

While ABC is bidding farewell to “Samantha Who” and “According to Jim,” it welcomes four new comedies, two dramas and a reality show for the fall, with additional series to debut at midseason. Check out the network’s press release here.

NBC had already announced its new shows at its “Infront” presentation earlier this month. Earlier today, the network announced where each show will debut on the schedule. And, as you can see here, there’s a whole lot of Jay Leno and a big post-Winter Olympics shakeup.

All sneak peeks and preview clips from the broadcast networks are available on TVWeek’s Fall Preview Player, which is continuously updated as part of the Upfront Navigator.

Check out previews for ABC’s “Cougar Town,” starring Courteney Cox, and NBC’s “Mercy,” with Michelle Trachtenberg, after the jump.

Continue reading "Check Out Fall Shows From ABC, NBC" »

May 18, 2009

VIDEO: Fox Previews New 2009-10 Series

Fox announced its 2009-10 schedule plans Monday, Fox
kicking off the 2009 Upfronts week. Advertisers got a sneak peek of new sitcoms “Brothers” and “Sons of Tucson,” dramas “Past Life” and “Human Target,” as well as more on “The Cleveland Show” and “Glee."

Straight from Fox to viewers, check out the trailers for these shows after the jump below.

Don't forget to check out TVWeek’s Upfront Navigator and New Season Preview video player for the latest news and videos straight from the presentations.

Continue reading "VIDEO: Fox Previews New 2009-10 Series" »

May 17, 2009

McHale: Hardy Hopes for Doing Double Duty

Joel McHale, host of E!’s “The Soup” and star of NBC’s new comedy “Community,” is excited to be doing double duty on both shows this fall.

Joel McHale

Mr. McHale, who will remain very much a part of “The Soup” despite his new show, thinks the weekly frequency of the E! show is optimal: “If the show went daily, it would not be the same show,” he said. “I think it would be a mistake.”

Since “The Soup” requires him to be in studio only one day a week, he’s free to appear in the new primetime series and write (and watch the requisite television) for “The Soup” from home.

When asked to describe his new NBC comedy, Mr. McHale made a couple of attempts, including “‘Short Circuit’ meets ‘Pretty Woman’” and “‘The Accused’ meets ‘Without a Paddle,’” before finally settling on “‘The Breakfast Club’ meets ‘Stripes.’”

In “Community,” Mr. McHale plays a lawyer who must go back to community college to re-secure his degree. In the process, he forms a ragtag study group that includes comedy legend Chevy Chase. Working with Mr. Chase is a dream come true for Mr. McHale, who said he continually quotes Mr. Chase’s lines from “Fletch” on the set.

Continue reading "McHale: Hardy Hopes for Doing Double Duty" »

Unlikely Pairing on History’s ‘America’

It would take something awfully big to get one-time rivals History General Manager Nancy Dubuc and former Discovery Channel President Jane Root working together. How big? How about a 12-part series called “America: The Story of Us,” which will be executive produced by Ms. Root’s Nutopia production company and air on History. “There’s always an automatic kinship when someone’s been in your shoes or you’ve been in their shoes, and it took all of about 30 seconds for us to be able to relate to each other,” says Ms. Dubuc, who praised Ms. Root’s ability to create event programming. There may be some translation issues in having a Brit tell the story of America, but Ms. Dubuc says Ms. Root speaks her language from a programming point of view. “She knows what audiences want to see and how to get that dollar on the screen and how to talk to our advertising partners and how to relate to this as a business, not just as a special,” she said. “This has legs beyond the 12 hours it’s on our air.”

—Jon Lafayette

May 3, 2009

Shepherd in Support

While the ladies on “The View” can get into some fierce arguments, they’ve never come to blows … until now. On Friday’s edition of “WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown,” “View” co-host Sherri Shepherd showed up in the corner of Montel Vontavious Porter, aka MVP, as he defended his United States Championship against Dolph Ziggler. Ms. Shepherd was festooned in a Ric Flair-inspired robe covered in feathers and rhinestones for the event, which was taped at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Porter ended up retaining his title, while Ms. Shepherd gave Mr. Ziggler a hard slap during the matchup. This isn’t the first time “The View” and the WWE have crossed paths—sort of. In 2007, the WWE heavily promoted a match between former “View” co-host Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump, only to produce two look-alikes who duked it out. The fake Mr. Trump won the contest after using his signature coif as a battering ram. The match was a setup for the real Mr. Trump’s involvement with Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit, as he faced off in a head-shaving match against WWE CEO Vince McMahon.

—Andrew Krukowski

What Is: 2.1 Million ‘Jeopardy!’ Contest Entries?

Fans responded positively to last month’s “Jeopardy!” Galapagos Islands sweepstakes, which garnered nearly 2.1 million online entries from 350,000 viewers for a chance to sail to the exotic locale with show host Alex Trebek.

Jeopardy Galapagos Contest Website'

Harry Friedman, executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” said he was surprised by the big response to the contest—in which the show is partnered with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions—saying it’s the largest turnout for any “Jeopardy!” sweepstakes yet. “Were we hoping for it? Yes,” he said. “Were we expecting it? No.” Mr. Friedman said Mr. Trebek will be more than just a passive celebrity on the trip; he will hang out with the fans.

Mr. Trebek also will use the cruise to shoot visual clues from the Galapagos to air on “Jeopardy!” next season, Mr. Friedman said. While Mr. Friedman wouldn’t say if “Jeopardy!” is up for another cruise any time soon, he noted that viewer response has sent a clear message to producers that fans want something unique from the program.

—Andrew Krukowski

April 27, 2009

Check Out Jerry's 10 Finalists in 'Springer Singer Search'

NBC Universal’s “The Jerry Springer Show” announced the “Springer Singer Search” in March, looking for original song submissions about “Springer” from the show's fans.

Jerry Springer

Now, we’ve entered the semi-finals, as the producers have culled the pack down to 10 entrants. Viewers are encouraged to head over to http://www.jerryspringertv.com/ to vote for their favorites, and the top three will perform on an episode in May to decide the winner of the $5,000 prize.

After the jump, check out the semi-finalists as we check in with Blink’s bookie to get odds and notes on the competition.

Continue reading "Check Out Jerry's 10 Finalists in 'Springer Singer Search' " »

April 15, 2009

WWE Brings Back ‘Superstars’

A staple on Saturday mornings for many children of the 1980s and ’90s is resurfacing, as “WWE Superstars” premieres on WGN America at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 16.

“WWF Superstars” ran in syndication from 1986 to 1996, generally featuring a collection of matches pitting top-level talent against a host of unknowns.

Occasionally, viewers might get a Yokozuna vs. Bob “Spark Plug” Holly or Bret Hart vs. Skinner match to keep things lively.

Outside of pay-per-view, “Superstars” was the place to see weekly WWE product on television in the late ’80s until “Monday Night Raw” premiered in 1993. Let’s walk down memory lane with this intro:

Now, the WWE airs weekly on several channels, including Sci Fi, USA, MyNetworkTV and Telemundo as well as occasional primetime NBC specials and monthly pay-per-view outings.

This go-round of “Superstars” has headlining talent from the WWE’s three brands, Raw, Smackdown and ECW, facing off in brand-new matches.

According to the WWE, “Superstars” will feature brand-specific matches and commentary, meaning, for now, Raw talent will square off against other Raw stars on the show. Each brand’s commentary team will provide the play-by-play for that brand’s matches.

Click play to see a promo for tomorrow’s show:

April 12, 2009

‘Design’ on Bravo

Take talented husband-and-wife designers who find abandoned buildings in Manhattan, turn them into million-dollar homes for rich folks and flip them.

Design Sixx

Throw in seven kids in a Mini Cooper and a wild boar’s head, and what do you have? All the elements of a new reality show Bravo will announce as part of its upfront presentation to advertisers this week. “Design Sixx” (working title, dating to before their seventh offspring was born) features Cortney and Robert Novogratz and is produced by Left/Right for Bravo. “We expect this show to appeal to our core viewers, the affluent, educated 18- to 49-year-olds,” said Frances Berwick, general manager of Bravo. “It’s another prong of our quality unscripted strategy.” She expects the show to generate buzz, both live around water coolers and virtually through blogs and the like. “They are the kind of charismatic personalities you can’t stop watching because you’re dying to know what they do next. People will come into the office the next day and say, ‘Oh my God, did you see that show with those fabulous designers and their seven kids?’”

—Jon Lafayette



April 10, 2009

‘Southland,’ ‘Parks’ Ratings Prompt Optimism for NBC’s Silverman

So why was Thursday a night that was different from all others?

Ben Silverman

Well, in addition to being the second night of Passover, two new shows premiered on NBC Thursday. And unlike most of the network's recent efforts (and, quite frankly, virtually all of this year's midseason class), both "Parks and Recreation" and "Southland" bowed to decent ratings.

The numbers were good enough to prompt Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, to get on the phone and declare ... well, not exactly victory.

"We're very excited about the promise of these shows," he said. "They're both super good. They're totally on brand. ...And (with “Southland,” which saw a ratings bump at the half-hour mark) it was nice to see people calling up each other and saying, 'You gotta see this show.’"

Continue reading "‘Southland,’ ‘Parks’ Ratings Prompt Optimism for NBC’s Silverman" »

April 9, 2009

‘Arrested’ Folk Join ‘SNL’ Talent to Voice ‘Sit Down Shut Up’

“Sit Down Shut Up” is bringing back some “Arrested Development” flair to Fox Sundays, as the animated comedy reunites creator Mitch Hurwitz with cast members Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Henry Winkler.

Set in a high school, the animated series follows the day-to-day dealings of a group of teachers stumbling and fumbling through their day. Among them are a suicidal German teacher (played by Mr. Winkler) and the perpetually happy vice principal Stuart Prozackian, played by “Saturday Night Live’s” Will Forte.

Mr. Forte isn’t the only “SNL” link, as Kenan Thompson and Cheri Oteri also lend their voices to the project.

Click the play button below to see some clips from the show. “Sit Down, Shut Up” premieres April 19 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.

—Andrew Krukowski

April 2, 2009

NBC Rolls Out Online ‘Southland’ Preview

Looking like a cross between “Training Day” and “Law & Order,” NBC’s “Southland,” premiering next Thursday, follows a rookie cop learning the ropes as a Los Angeles police officer.

In this clip, Ben Sherman (played by Ben McKenzie) comes across a decomposing body at a crime scene; he reacts accordingly, reeling outside to retch. Of course, his hardened cop co-workers also react accordingly, mocking him for it.

Click play to watch the clip.

“Southland” is assuming the timeslot “ER” has held for 15 seasons, as the cornerstone medical series takes its final bow tonight.

If you like what you see in the clip, Hulu has the complete first episode of “Southland” up for viewing here.

—Andrew Krukowski

March 29, 2009

Clearing Things Up at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

Another one of the late-night warriors is going high-def. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will begin broadcasting in HD on Tuesday, April 14, Blink has learned.

Jimmy Kimmel

It joins all of NBC’s late-night shows, as well as CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman,” in making the transition to digital broadcasting. “Kimmel’s” lead-in, the ABC News-produced “Nightline,” jumped to HD last year. ABC’s move leaves CBS’ “Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson” as the only network late-night show that has not announced plans to switch to high definition. Given the competitive late-night landscape, as well as TV’s overall trend toward embracing HD, Mr. Ferguson likely will be making the transition eventually. Most of ABC’s primetime broadcasts are now in HD, as are news shows such as “Good Morning, America” and “20/20” and the daytime talk show “The View.”

—Josef Adalian


March 20, 2009

Familiar Faces Fill ‘Unusuals’ Sneak Peek

In ABC’s ongoing quest to find a procedural hit with quirk, the network is launching “The Unusuals” on April 8.

The show stars some familiar TV faces—Amber Tamblyn (“Joan of Arcadia”), Harold Perrineau (“Lost”), Adam Goldberg (“Friends,” “Entourage”)—as, you guessed it, unusual New York City police detectives.

In this show, the crimes are as odd as the folks investigating them. In the clip below, a naked guy runs through the street, his flabby, hairy body on full display, until he meets his untimely end.

“Poor naked, dead guy. No one should have to go out like that,” Ms. Tamblyn’s character says.

No one should have to see that, the Daily Blink says.

—Vlada Gelman

March 12, 2009

Sneak a Peek as ‘Mars’ Stars ‘Party Down’ on Starz

Rob Thomas’ new comedy series “Party Down,” premiering next Friday on Starz, is filled with a plethora of former cast members and producers from his canceled UPN/CW show “Veronica Mars.”

In the pilot alone, “Mars’” Dick Casablancas, aka actor Ryan Hansen, auditions for a Ryan Atwood-like role in “The Palisades” pilot, while “Veronica’s” pops Enrico Colantoni guest stars as an unhappy suburbanite.

But until Ms. Mars herself, Kristen Bell, makes an appearance in the season finale, the holy grail of “Veronica Mars” guest stars converges in episode 2. The episode features Jason Dohring (also of “Moonlight”) as the vice president of a conservative, young leaders of tomorrow-type group, which is awaiting the Governator’s visit.

And his girlfriend? Played by none other than Alona Tal, his best buddy’s one-time girlfriend on “Veronica Mars.”

In the episode, Mr. Dohring sips an underage-friendly Freedomtini and sports a hairdo that would make Donald Trump proud. He also gives advice to a bartender played by Adam Scott, a one-time “Mars” teacher accused of inappropriate student-teacher relations by guest star Leighton Meester.

Check out some exclusive clips of Mr. Dohring and Ms. Tal below:

—Vlada Gelman

NBC, Celebs Ask: ‘Have You Tried Conan O’Brien?’

The selling of Conan O’Brien continues.

NBC kicked off its marketing campaign for “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” back in February, with a high-profile spot featuring celebrities of different sorts endorsing Mr. O’Brien as if he were a product.

“If your Conan lasts more than three hours, call a doctor,” Tina Fey said in the Super Bowl spot, which also included appearances by Martha Stewart, Paul Rudd and Megan Mullally.

Now NBC has begun the next phase of the campaign, rolling out individual celebrity endorsements of Mr. O’Brien. The theme—“Have You Tried Conan O’Brien?”—remains the same, but there’s now a direct pitch noting Mr. O’Brien is “coming to ‘The Tonight Show’” on June 1.

Some of the individual spots are reprisals of the Super Bowl endorsements. But some new names will pop up in the 20-second spots as well, including Nathan Lane, Ice-T and Steve Carell.

Here’s a first look at three of the new ads in NBC’s campaign for Mr. O’Brien:

—Josef Adalian

March 8, 2009

Multiple Headaches for Octomom in Syndication

The denizens of the syndicated programming world are no strangers to the avalanche of media coverage surrounding “octomom” Nadya Suleman, who gave birth famously to octuplets in Southern California in January.

Nadya Suleman

Last month, “Dr. Phil” snared a coveted interview with Ms. Suleman, while “The Oprah Winfrey Show” grabbed time with Ms. Suleman’s father, Ed Doud, who was publicly critical of his daughter.

But the backlash of negative public opinion the ongoing media frenzy has created toward the octomom has affected the syndie world too.

Genre Judge Judy Sheindlin joined the charge last week, calling Ms. Suleman “irresponsible” during a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and asserting that the media outlets making Ms. Suleman into a celebrity are “doing the rest of the world a big disservice.”

And at least one syndicated outlet is flat-out refusing to feed into the hype: Billy Bush, host of NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood,” announced on the Feb. 25 episode that the show will no longer cover Ms. Suleman’s saga, save for a possible movie-of-the-week announcement.

“It’s gross,” Mr. Bush said about the ever-expanding story.

“Access” executive producer Rob Silverstein said he was no longer interested in the story when a Radar Online “video showdown” between Ms. Suleman and her mother over the multiple births was presented almost like a WWE wrestling match.

“I found it as distasteful as I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Silverstein said.

Internet and viewer reaction to the “Access” shift was generally positive, though some found the announcement to be a wee bit sanctimonious.

“To be clear, the octomom story is sordid and tragic,” wrote one blogger at media-analysis blog Newsbusters.org, “and deciding not to report it is understandable—perhaps laudable. But ‘Access Hollywood’s’ moral preening about this is, well, gross.”

—Andrew Krukowski

March 4, 2009

MLB Network Hits Blue Note

Sometimes with live sports broadcasts, inappropriate language from the field gets on the air. And sometimes it comes from the announcer booth.

Last night, the new MLB Network dropped its first F-bomb as host Matt Vasgersian said the unspeakable into an open mike on “MLB Tonight,” after he mistakenly identified Fernando Valenzuela as Fernando Vina.

The odd thing about the incident was that Mr. Vasgersian made the slip while preparing a taped piece, and somehow that piece of tape wound up airing as part of the show.

In a statement, the network said it apologized “for the inappropriate language used by Matt Vasgersian that aired during ‘MLB Tonight’ last night. We inadvertently aired an outtake of a segment obviously not intended to make air.”

No word on what disciplinary measures were being taken with Mr. Vasgersian or the technician responsible for putting the clip into the show.

—Jon Lafayette

(1:15 p.m.: Corrected spelling of Valenzuela in 2nd paragraph)

February 25, 2009

We Love the ’80s!

Alex Drake is on a bad trip—time trip, that is.

Ashes to Ashes

After taking a bullet to the head, the police officer, played by Keeley Hawes, finds herself face to face with figures she’s only read about: Gene Hunt, Ray Carling and Chris Skelton.

You see, Ms. Drake is the main character in “Ashes to Ashes,” a sort-of sequel to “Life on Mars,” the BBC series-turned-ABC drama. In the series trailer, she’s reading the file of Sam Tyler, whose travails in the 1970s were the subject of “Life.”

This time around, Ms. Drake finds herself sent back to 1981, complete with period-correct outlandishly big hair and visions of David Bowie in his distinctive “Ashes to Ashes” getup. (As with “Life on Mars,” Mr. Bowie provides the title tune.)

BBC America starts airing the series on March 7, but you can check out a preview clip here.

—Lisa D. Horowitz

February 20, 2009

WE tv Gets Break on ‘Breaking Bad’

The day before “Breaking Bad” returns with Emmy winner Bryan Cranston on AMC, sister network WE tv will be airing “Last Chance,” an independent film Mr. Cranston made with his wife, Robin Dearden.

Last Chance

Charlie Collier, president and general manager of AMC, said the female-skewing film is designed to cross-promote the series to a new audience.

“It’s a sweet romantic drama that I wrote as a Valentine for my wife,” Mr. Cranston says. “I play her husband, kind of a louse of a guy, but I’m very proud of it and it’s one way that we can reach out and hopefully attract more women to ‘Breaking Bad.’”

Mr. Cranston said it would be nice if wives and girlfriends would sit and watch the series with their men.

“But not together,” he added. “You have to choose if it’s going to be your wife or your girlfriend.”

“All of us at Rainbow are big fans of Bryan Cranston and the work that he has done on AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad,’" said Kim Martin, president-general manager of WE tv. “We’re always on the lookout for quality product that speaks to women, and if it happens to come from someone who is already in the family, better still."

—Jon Lafayette

February 15, 2009

Prime ‘Access’ to ‘Stars’ Competition

The appearance by “Access Hollywood’s” Nancy O’Dell on this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” is going to afford the syndicated entertainment newsmagazine exclusive access to this go-round of the popular ABC celebrity dance competition.

Nancy O’Dell

Rob Silverstein, executive producer of the NBC Universal-distributed strip, is planning wall-to-wall coverage of “Stars,” and isn’t shy about lauding Ms. O’Dell’s chances of winning the dance competition.

“I would say, up until she wins this thing, we will have something on the show every single day,” he said.

Currently planned is a daily confessional segment from Ms. O’Dell about the day’s practice; a body measurement index to show how much weight and body mass Ms. O’Dell loses over the course of the competition; interviews with former celebrity dance partners of Ms. O’Dell’s teammate Tony Dovolani; and a “leg measure-off” between Ms. O’Dell and former WWE wrestler and “Stars” competitor Stacy Keibler to see who has the longest legs.

“This is a one-time chance,” Mr. Silverstein said, adding that “Access” is planning to have cameras follow Ms. O’Dell everywhere: in her trailer, during rehearsals and backstage.

Mr. Silverstein said he’s trying to figure out a way to use “Access” to generate viewer votes for Ms. O’Dell.

An online poll at TVGuide.com has pegged Ms. O’Dell as the early favorite to win, with 29% of the vote. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is a close second with 26%.

—Andrew Krukowski

February 12, 2009

‘ET’ Dances Around O’Dell Casting on ‘Dancing’

The announcement of “Access Hollywood” host Nancy O’Dell joining the season’s “Dancing With the Stars” puts rival entertainment newsmagazine “Entertainment Tonight” in a precarious position.

Nancy O'Dell

“Stars” gets a large amount of coverage on “ET,” but Ms. O’Dell is the face of the competition. What to do?

If you’re “ET,” the answer appears to be: Refuse to cover it.

Stories on “Entertainment Tonight’s” site regarding this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” currently lack Ms. O’Dell’s name. She’s not even mentioned in the main article about the cast.

Ms. O’Dell’s absence also is notable in another story about who the cast is partnering up with this season.

“‘Dancing With the Stars’ has called 13 new celebrities to the dance floor and, for the first time, three real-life couples will battle in the ballroom—‘ET’ reveals the dance partner pairing,” reads the beginning of the story, but it then only lists 12 competitors. Guess who’s missing?

Typing “Nancy O’Dell” into the search box on etonline.com also turns up zero results.

An “Entertainment Tonight” representative had no comment.

For comparison’s sake, Warner Bros.’ “Extra” lists Ms. O’Dell in its story on the cast announcement, referring to her as a “TV personality.”

—Andrew Krukowski

February 11, 2009

‘Castle’ Gets Notes From Authors

A secret poker club for mystery authors?

Looks like Rick Castle, the mystery writer played by Nathan Fillion in ABC’s upcoming “Castle,” gets his storytelling advice from real-life writers James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell over a poker game.

Mr. Patterson and TV veteran Mr. Cannell, who created or co-created shows including “The Rockford Files,” “The A-Team” and “21 Jump Street,” urge Castle not to cut off the head of his cash cow in the following sneak peek.


—Vlada Gelman

February 6, 2009

Parent Knows Best

Here's one of those corporate right-hand/left-hand/doing? situations that always prove so embarrassing.

We've all heard about the infamous surprise porn incident in Tucson, Ariz., last Sunday, when Comcast analog subscribers who were tuned into the Super Bowl on NBC were unwittingly subjected to 30 seconds of action on the Shorteez pay-per-view porn channel, also carried by Comcast in that market.

Lisa de Moraes, in her Washington Post TV column today updates the situation, reporting that Comcast, which termed the mishap an “isolated, malicious act,” will give offended subscribers a $10 credit. She goes on to quote Federal Communications Commission spokesman David Fiske, who denies a press report that the FCC is investigating the Tucson incident beyond an initial review of complaints.

Now here's the good part—that press report he’s denying? From a no less impeccable source than Comcast-owned E! Entertainment Television’s E! Online news. It was later amended with a retraction.

—Tom Gilbert

February 5, 2009

‘Torchwood’ Turns Up the Heat in Season 3

That fearless alien fighter Captain Jack is back in the BBC’s “Torchwood,” and if the trailer is anything to go by, this five-episode series will be a nonstop string of plot twists, explosions, betrayals and pan-sexual making out—just what “Torchwood” fans were hoping for!

Torchwood

In its third season, airing later this year on BBC 1 in the U.K. as well as on BBC America, “Torchwood: Children of Earth” sheds its usual serialized approach to present one story over five nights. John Barrowman returns as dashing Captain Jack, joined by Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), as something mysterious is happening to kids all over the world. The children all appear to have simultaneously … just … stopped.

While dealing with the loss of cohorts Owen and Toshiko, Jack, Gwen and Ianto must (a) solve the mystery; (b) cope with what looks like the mother of all government coverups; and (c) deal with their unusual love triangle (or quadrangle, if one includes Gwen’s now-husband).

Watch the action-packed trailer after the jump.

—Lisa D. Horowitz

Continue reading "‘Torchwood’ Turns Up the Heat in Season 3" »

February 4, 2009

Fox Channels Ghosts of Grindhouse

Starting Feb. 13, Fox will debut its new Friday night lineup, teaming Joss Whedon’s new drama “Dollhouse” with the return of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” The femme-focused pairing of two action-oriented series got the network’s hypemeisters thinking.

“We were talking about how our new Friday is like a good old ‘double feature’ night where the good guys (girls?) always win,” Fox marketing chief Joe Earley said. “We have these amazing ass-kicking women who are beautiful, smart and funny. So our special ops guys created this great spot specifically for the Internet.”

The spot features plenty of sexy shots of “Dollhouse” star Eliza Dushku and “Terminator” temptress Summer Glau, along with retro graphics and over-the-top narration (“Fuego your Fridays!”).

But it turns out the Internet wasn’t big enough to contain the energy of the promo.

“We liked it so much we decided to do a cut-down to air in our cable buy, and to run on our own air,” Mr. Earley said, noting that the broadcast version had to be tweaked a bit to meet with the approval of Fox’s broadcast standards and practices department.

Check out the spot below:

—Josef Adalian

January 19, 2009

Charlie, Meet ‘Chuck’

“Chuck” returns Feb. 2 with a 3-D episode featuring Dominic Monaghan playing a character not unlike his “Lost” alter ego Charlie.

Mr. Monaghan’s Tyler Martin is like Charlie before he got stranded on the island—a hard-partying rocker who mistakes Chuck’s apartment complex fountain for a toilet (“That ceiling looks just like the night sky,” he says.) and forgets to zip up his fly. Thank goodness this 3-D episode isn’t airing on HBO or Showtime.

Tyler’s also something of a Willy Wonka. He comes to Buy More to pimp his newest CD, some of which contain a golden ticket to get backstage at his benefit concert.

Check out some scenes from the episode below.

—Vlada Gelman

January 13, 2009

‘Skins’ Trailer Showcases Fresh Faces

“Skins” is not your average American teen show.

The British teen drama, airing in the U.S. on BBC America, features enough sex, nudity, drugs, drinking and foul language to make even Gossip Girl blush.

It’s also doing what few American teen shows have the guts to do: Cutting almost its entire cast. After following the same group of kids on the verge of university for two years, the series is starting fresh with a new crop of characters for its third season.

But there will be one familiar face: Effy, the sister of the character played by Nicholas Hoult (the kid from “About a Boy” grew up good) during the first two seasons.

Check out the trailer below. Brownie points to those who know what the term “skins” refers to. Hint: It’s not human skin.

—Vlada Gelman

January 11, 2009

‘Idol’ Sharpening Its Appeal to Young Women?

“American Idol’s” addition of fourth judge Kara DioGuardi marks one of the biggest changes to date for the competition reality series, debuting its eighth season Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Kara DioGuardi

Although touted as a move to invigorate the series and comply with the show’s original plan to have four judges, “Idol’s” ratings decline among young adult women suggests there could an additional motivating factor behind the hire. It has already been documented that “Idol’s” ratings for season seven were down from the year before. Among adults 18 to 49, Tuesday ratings for the season were down 6% and Wednesdays were down 12%. Total viewership was down 4% on Tuesdays and off 9% on Wednesdays for the season. However, the biggest declines for last season occurred in women 18 to 34, with ratings for that demo down 16% on Tuesdays and a sharp 20% on Wednesdays. After the announcement late last summer that Ms. DioGuardi would be joining current judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, Fox President of Alternative Programming Mike Darnell said Ms. Abdul has served as “an island of consideration and gentle criticism between Randy and Simon” and that the two female judges together will lend some “girl power” to the show. Will Ms. DioGuardi help give the show, and its ratings, a boost of estrogen? Tell Blink what you think at TVWeek.com.

—Sergio Ibarra

A New Life for ‘Wonderland’

DirecTV soon may have to change the name of The 101 to PeterBergTV.

Wonderland

Last fall, the satellite service generated decent buzz—and endless amounts of goodwill among TV fans—when it aired the third season of Mr. Berg’s “Friday Night Lights.” Now The 101 is making room for another one of Mr. Berg’s creations. Starting Jan. 14 at 10 p.m., it will begin airing weekly episodes of “Wonderland,” the edgy, somewhat controversial medical drama that aired just twice in 2000 before ABC pulled the plug. In addition to the two previously broadcast hours, The 101 will air six episodes of the series that have never been shown anywhere. “I was just visiting with [DirecTV executive] Eric Shanks and we were talking about how great things were going with ‘Friday Night Lights,’” Mr. Berg told Blink last week from New York. “We were talking and it just occurred to me that there were these eight episodes of what I think is some of my best work sitting on a shelf, so I just pitched him the idea.” Mr. Berg sent Mr. Shanks copies of the “Wonderland” episodes, and got a quick “yes” in response. Of course, DirecTV had to do some negotiating with ABC Studios, which owns the rights to “Wonderland,” but Mr. Berg said the studio was “very classy” in terms of making a deal financially feasible for DirecTV. DirecTV’s deal could pave the way for a DVD release of the show. What’s more, Mr. Berg said he can actually see some scenarios in which “Wonderland”—which featured cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Piven—might be revived with original episodes. “Just a few months ago, I would have said these episodes airing on DirecTV was an impossibility,” he said. “What’s so interesting about the TV business today is that we’re seeing a revolution in distribution. Anything can happen.”

—Josef Adalian

The Password Is … Julie?

“The Early Show” anchor Julie Chen impressed Blink a few weeks ago with her wordplay skills when she appeared on CBS’ “Million Dollar Password.”

Million Dollar Password

Ms. Chen proved particularly adept at both giving and receiving clues. Turns out Ms. Chen has taken quite a liking to the game. In fact, CBS chief Leslie Moonves—aka Julie’s husband—tells Blink that he and Ms. Chen have begun playing the home version of “Password” on a regular basis. “She loves it,” Mr. Moonves said between meetings at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. “It’ll be getting late at night and she’ll say, ‘C’mon, let’s play one more round.’” Now if only Parker Bros. made a home edition of “Big Brother.”

—Josef Adalian

December 18, 2008

Finding a Slot for ‘Lost and Found’

NBC's recent move to ditch 10 p.m. dramas for Jay Leno has predictably sent some producers reaching for the Xanax. After all, it just got about 25 percent harder to land a new hour on the Peacock network.

That said, NBC officials insist that they're not giving up on sophisticated dramas, even if it means airing them at 9 p.m. In fact, shortly after the press conference announcing Mr. Leno's new show, NBC Entertainment Co-chairman Ben Silverman went out of his way to highlight two projects he's particularly optimistic about—a cop show from "ER" creator John Wells and a new cold case crime drama from "Law & Order" guru Dick Wolf.

Indeed, Mr. Wolf's latest project—dubbed "Lost and Found"—seems to be picking up some steam as it prepares to begin shooting. A recent table read is said to have gone "very well," according to one production insider.

The mood may have been helped by the ratings for the Dec. 3 episode of "Law & Order," which were the best for the show in more than a year. That episode featured a guest starring appearance by Katee Sackhoff, the "Battlestar Galactica" regular who also happens to be the lead in Mr. Wolf's new show.

—Josef Adalian

December 16, 2008

Moo-erry Christmas From ‘Fringe’

Gene the Cow from “Fringe” is working overtime this month to provide milk for Santa Claus, but she still found some time to wish you all a Happy Fringemas.

She also sent along a holiday greeting from Walter Bishop, which doubles as a “This season so far…” recap in the vein of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

“Fringe” doesn’t return until Jan. 20, but until then, “Merry Fringemas to all, and to all a ‘Fringe’ night.”


—Vlada Gelman

Are You Ready to Get ‘Lost’?

It’s time to return to the island.

Jack’s savior complex is now full-blown, and he and Ben are getting ready to round up the Oceanic Six and return to the survivors they left behind on the mysterious island in “Lost.”

ABC’s promo video offers tantalizing clues to the fifth season, which begins Jan. 21, including Locke’s visit to Jack and Ben’s farewell to Locke. It also raises the question of how and whether the odd couple—good guy Jack and bad guy Ben—will be able to persuade the others (as opposed to The Others) to return.

See for yourself.

—Lisa D. Horowitz

December 14, 2008

Come Again? Captioning All That ‘Jizz’

“Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 6 presented another of the show’s edgy musical shorts (Who can forget “Dick in a Box”?) that immediately became a Web favorite—660,000 hits and counting less than a week after its debut. Veteran cast member Andy Samberg and his fellow Lonely Island members, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, debuted a rappish ode to, ummm, non-procreational and uncontrollable male emissions titled “Jizz in My Pants.” The J-word was heard many, many, many times. But hearing-impaired viewers who need closed-captioning to follow what’s happening on TV didn’t see “jizz” in the captioned lyrics; they saw “—.” Just “—” every time. Not because of any prudishness on the part of the captioners, all of whom are dedicated to replicating as closely as possible the complete TV experience. Late-night captioners have been known to follow a joke that bombed with “(smattering of applause).” According to a spokeswoman for VITAC, which captions “SNL,” the musical short was not included in the dress rehearsal, which VITAC’s captioners watch to familiarize themselves with what they may see about three hours later. When the captioners saw the musical short on the live show later that night, they could not be sure what the word was and the rule is to not guess but to indicate something was being left out. Blink is partial to “(garbled lyrics”), which is often how rappers are rendered during live performances on TV. But now that VITAC knows what the word is, it will be accurately reflected in the closed-captioning on any encore broadcasts. That’s the official word.

—Michele Greppi

December 5, 2008

A Fresh Stab at ‘Nip/Tuck’

Blink_NipTuck.jpgFX’s plastic surgery-themed “Nip/Tuck” is picking up right where last season left off, with Dr. Sean McNamara, played by Dylan Walsh, fresh from a bloody backstabbing and being dragged across the floor.

In the following clips, the show’s cast and creative team give a sneak peek at some of the things brewing for season six, which begins Jan. 6.

Will children follow in their parents’ footsteps, regardless of age? Will a child upstage the big doctors, for that matter? What happens when Dr. Christian Troy, played by Julian McMahon, finally feels up Dr. Liz Cruz (Roma Maffia)?

Check out the clips and behind-the-scenes information after the jump, if not for the spoilers then at least for the roster of guest stars including Morgan Fairchild, Katee Sackhoff and Jennifer Coolidge.

Continue reading "A Fresh Stab at ‘Nip/Tuck’ " »

Be of Good(Bye) Cheer

The timing couldn’t have been worse.

Kathie Lee Gifford

The annual party thrown by the “Today” executive producer and talent for the morning show’s staff had, for several months, been scheduled for Thursday. That, of course, was the day when the bulk of the personnel cuts were enacted on “Today” and in other units of NBC News, cuts made as part of the $500 million NBC Universal retrenchment ordered last October by NBCU President Jeff Zucker.

On Friday, Kathie Lee Gifford opened up the fourth hour of “Today” she co-hosts with Hoda Kotb, waving pictures from the party—including one in which the co-hosts were simultaneously planting kisses on the cheeks of executive producer Jim Bell.

“The ‘Today’ holiday party is thrown each year to thank the hundreds of staff and crew members who work so hard on the show every day. It was personally hosted by Jim Bell and the ‘Today’ talent and was planned months ago,” a spokeswoman for the morning show said.

Blink understands that life must go on. But it does seem a bit tone-deaf to trill on the air about letting the good times roll, a day after the good times came to a screeching halt for so many.

—Michele Greppi

December 1, 2008

'Scrubs' Invites First Guest to New Home

When “Scrubs” moves to ABC on Jan. 6, it’ll be bringing along a friend.

“Friends” star Courteney Cox will guest star as the new chief of medicine. She’s “extremely hot”—which causes J.D. to go into an overly prolonged slow-motion sequence—and super-friendly. She even manages to get a smile out of perpetual grump Dr. Cox.

No idea what Zach Braff’s scruff is about, but the Daily Blink hopes he finds a shaving razor. Stat.

—Vlada Gelman

November 25, 2008

TNT Looks for ‘Leverage’

TNT’s latest “We Know Drama” series, “Leverage,” revolves around a group of high-tech crooks who steal from wealthy criminals and corrupt businessmen.
Leverage

See, the heroes in this show are morally gray because they steal from bad guys. But the bad guys totally deserve it!

In addition to star Timothy Hutton, the show features a slew of TV faces familiar to the Daily Blink: Christian Kane (“Angel”), Gina Bellman (the British “Coupling”), Aldis Hodge (“Friday Night Lights”) and Mark Sheppard (every show ever, seriously).

Check out some scenes from the show, which premieres Dec. 7, behind the cut.

Continue reading "TNT Looks for ‘Leverage’" »

November 21, 2008

Musically Motivated ‘Lost’ Preview Hits Air

It worked for “Grey’s Anatomy” with Snow Patrol and the Fray, so now ABC is giving “Lost” the music video treatment.

Lost

In a nearly 3-minute Fray music video aired last night during “Grey’s Anatomy,” fans got a sneak peek at the fifth season of “Lost.” Most of the featured “Lost” footage is old, but there are some scenes from the upcoming season, including ones of Sawyer and Juliet holding hands while running, Desmond and Penny in bed and an Easter egg for Ajira Airways.

Oh yes, and Sawyer has lost his shirt again.

Check out the full music video behind the cut.

Continue reading "Musically Motivated ‘Lost’ Preview Hits Air" »

November 19, 2008

Take a Test Flight With ABC’s Reincarnated ‘Cupid’

Back in 1998, ABC aired “Cupid,” a romantic drama about a psychologist charged with helping a man who believes he’s Cupid sent down to unite 100 couples before he’s allowed back to Mount Olympus.

Cupid

ABC canceled the Rob Thomas-created show after one season. Starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall, “Cupid” was one of many shows for which Ms. Marshall earned the online nickname “Showkiller.”

But the network is giving Mr. Thomas another chance to inject some romance into prime time with an update of “Cupid.” Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson take over the lead roles this time, and the setting moves from Chicago to dating mecca Los Angeles.

With so few romance shows on TV that don’t involve pubic hair—thanks for that, “The Ex List”*—and scalpels, and TV’s most non-touching romance, “Pushing Daisies,” possibly on its way out, the Daily Blink welcomes “Cupid” into the 21st century with a teaser trailer behind the cut.

*Rob Thomas has brought on board his “Veronica Mars” executive producer Diane Ruggiero, who quit her duties as “Ex List’s” showrunner before the show premiered. Hopefully, she didn’t bring the pubic hair jokes with her.

Continue reading "Take a Test Flight With ABC’s Reincarnated ‘Cupid’" »

November 16, 2008

Satire Is What Opens ‘Saturday Night’

The truth is at least as strange as fiction.

Martin Eisenstadt

Political pranksters Dan Mirvish and Eitan Gorlin, hot off the blogospheric ascension and equally fast outing of their creation Martin Eisenstadt, are hoping to use their newfound fame to get their TV pilot off the ground.

Before the fictional Mr. Eisenstadt took credit for leaking Sarah Palin’s confusion about Africa to the world, the filmmakers had been shopping a pilot based on the pundit character. Mr. Mirvish said the single-camera comedy, called “The Pundit,” would be “about this sort of Frasier Crane-meets-Stephen Colbert type character” and the people who work with him at his think tank.

However, in pitch meetings before Eisenstadt’s exposure, Mr. Mirvish said, they were told, “The appetite for political satire on television is very limited.” There’s Jon Stewart and Mr. Colbert, and that’s about it.

But “Saturday Night Live’s” record ratings thanks to its political satire gives Mr. Mirvish hope. After all, he and Mr. Gorlin can take a little of the credit for that lift. The rumor that Barack Obama would appear on the NBC show on the Saturday before the election, according to Mr. Mirvish, originated on EisenstadtGroup.com, the faux pundit’s blog. It was picked up by numerous mainstream media outlets and was credited for boosting tune-in for the episode, which in fact boasted guest star John McCain.

Where does satire end and reality begin? Don’t ask Martin Eisenstadt!

—Lisa D. Horowitz

November 13, 2008

Broadway Rosie’s Back in Town

Rosie Live! Promo

Rosie O’Donnell is offering an early peek at her upcoming NBC variety hour—and making some jokes about her public persona in the process.

On a video posted Thursday on her Rosie.com Web site, Ms. O’Donnell appears in costume as Officer Lockstock, a character from the Broadway musical “Urinetown.” A young actress playing Little Sally (another character from the show) peppers her with questions.

“Will Rosie tell off a famous billionaire?” Little Sally asks.

“Oh, Little Sally, he’s not a billionaire,” Ms. O’Donnell replies, in character.

“Will she yell at a skinny little Republican?” asks Little Sally.

“No, she did that for almost a year,” responds Ms. O’Donnell.

The quips are references, of course, to Ms. O’Donnell’s run-ins with Donald Trump and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

Ms. O’Donnell began rehearsals for her NBC special this week. The show, dubbed “Rosie Live,” airs Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m.

NBC today announced that Kathy Griffin and Jane Krakowski will be guest starring on the show, along with the previously revealed musicals guests Ne-Yo and Alanis Morissette.

—Josef Adalian

November 12, 2008

Sneak a Peek at ‘The Beast’

Sneak Preview of The Beast

Earlier this year Patrick Swayze revealed he was battling pancreatic cancer. The news brought into question his role on A&E’s series “The Beast.” After he starred in the pilot, the network was glad to keep Mr. Swayze on board for production on the series, which began this past summer in Chicago. Below is a teaser clip for the cable network’s upcoming drama due in January.

Continue reading "Sneak a Peek at ‘The Beast’" »

PTC Says ‘Extreme Makeover’ Is Suitable for All, but ‘Family Guy’? Not So Much

The Parents Television Council released its list of the 20 most popular prime-time broadcast TV shows watched by children ages 2-17, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Family Guy

The programs are ranked from best to worst “based on foul language, sexual content and violence, along with the overall themes of each program,” using a traffic-light ratings system.

The green-light category, which is populated by reality and game shows such as “Deal or No Deal” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” may be most suitable for children, but it’s hardly quality programming, if you ask the Daily Blink.

Here’s the complete list of green-light shows. We’ll give the PTC its top show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” because it’s the only thing on TV that makes the Daily Blink tear up.

1. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
2. “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”
3. “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”
4. “Deal or No Deal”
5. “NBC Sunday Night Football”
6. “American Idol”

Readers, prepare to step on the gas, because the following yellow-light shows are “questionably suitable.”

Continue reading "PTC Says ‘Extreme Makeover’ Is Suitable for All, but ‘Family Guy’? Not So Much" »

November 11, 2008

'Daisies' Staff Not Ready to Say Die

Fear not, "Pushing Daisies" fans: If ABC prematurely pulls the plug on piemaker Ned and his posse of peculiar pals, Bryan Fuller is prepared to resurrect his series from the dead.
medium

UNWILTING 'DAISIES' Executive producer Peter Ocko and creator Bryan Fuller.

"The idea would be to finish out the season's story arcs in comic books" if the on-the-bubble hour isn't picked up, Fuller told a full house at the Paley Center for Media on Tuesday night. He said he hoped his writing staff, most of whom were present for the "Inside the Writers' Room" panel, would be part of the project "to satisfy the fans and ourselves, to finish up the stories we'd love to tell." Warner Bros. Television, which produces the series, is a corporate sibling to DC Comics, which would be the likely publisher, Fuller said. (He also mentioned Wildstorm as a possibility.)

"That would clear the slate for a movie," Fuller added.

"Pushing Daisies" is scheduled to wrap the final episode of its 13-episode order on Thursday, and there's still no word from the network on whether that back-nine order is forthcoming, Fuller said. "It's radio silence," he said. "We ask ABC and they say 'wait and see.'

"We have a great back nine we pitched to the network," he added. "I think they're waiting on a lot of factors," including the ratings, which went up when the show was the lone network entertainment program to air in its regular slot against Barack Obama's half-hour informercial. They gained a million viewers that night, and are hoping to retain at least some of that gain on subsequent episodes.

"If it's our last episode," Fuller said of the one currently shooting, "it's something we can all be proud of."

Although he wouldn't go into great detail, he compared it to the ending of his earlier series, "Wonderfalls." "It sets up a new direction for the series, but it's a satisfying ending," he said, adding, "It's a big game-changer."

Continue reading "'Daisies' Staff Not Ready to Say Die" »

November 9, 2008

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls on TV

The clock is ticking for a number of high-profile freshman and sophomore series whose fates are up in the air, including ABC drama “Pushing Daisies” and CBS comedy “Worst Week.” “Daisies,” a critical darling that performed nicely last year, has struggled since it returned to ABC this fall after a long strike-induced hiatus. As of Friday afternoon, the network still hadn’t decided whether to order more episodes of the Warner Bros. TV-produced show, but industry insiders aren’t hopeful about its chances—which means “Pushing Daisies” could soon be, well, pushing daisies.

Pushing Daisies

Creator Bryan Fuller seems to already be preparing for life after “Daisies”; he told Entertainment Weekly’s Web site last week that he’s planning to return to his old home on NBC’s “Heroes” if his show isn’t renewed by mid-January. Nobody at CBS’ “Worst Week” is blabbing to the press about future jobs, and it could still be a while before the network has to make any decisions about the well-reviewed comedy’s fate. The network has ordered four extra scripts beyond the show’s original 13-episode order. While CBS brass like “Worst Week,” the show’s ratings have been stubbornly subpar. Decisions might come sooner for a pair of dramas battling each other at 10 p.m. Thursday: CBS’ “Eleventh Hour” and ABC’s “Life on Mars.” Both got off to so-so starts this fall, but both have been showing signs of growth in recent weeks. Another 10 p.m. drama, ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money,” also is on the bubble. The network obviously is disappointed that the show has been finishing in third place in its Wednesday time slot, despite a strong lead-in from “Private Practice.” ABC soon will have to decide whether it can find another slot for “Dirty” or if it’s time to move on. Meanwhile, over at NBC, network executives soon will have to make a call on struggling soap “Lipstick Jungle.” The network’s decision to move the show to Fridays with no promotion or advance notice caused the show’s already low ratings to plummet on Oct. 31. If “Lipstick’s” Nov. 7 episode tanks as badly, it could be curtains for the show.

—Josef Adalian


CNN’s Own Reality

CNN's Election Night Coverage

CNN Senior VP David Bohrman’s signature fascination with techno-wizardry was one of the hot topics the day after Election Night, when that cable news network scored a record audience. Mr. Borhman conjured up the network’s “hologram” plan, in which live 3-D images of correspondent Jessica Yellin and entertainer will.i.am in Chicago were “beamed” into CNN’s New York studio to be interviewed by Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper. By the end of last week, Mr. Bohrman was a little tired of the “obtuse” argument raised by a Canadian scientist that what CNN showed was not a hologram but a tomogram. (He also was tired of the late-night spoofs.) “Technically, it was a living virtual character,” said Mr. Bohrman, who added that he has an undergraduate degree in physics from Stanford and still had never heard of a tomogram. And if anyone wants to go all purist on him about the journalistic integrity behind taking a correspondent out of actual geographical context for the interview, Mr. Bohrman, who spent part of his earlier 13 years at ABC News as part of the original “Nightline” production team, replies: “Here’s a secret: Ted Koppel was looking at a green wall” when, via the magic of Chyron, the audience at home thought he was looking at his interviewees on a big screen. “I came down on the side that it was valid at ‘Nightline,’ and this is no less valid to pull that [hologram] into the room.” The Washington-based CNN executive said Election Night was “a little test of an idea” that may be well enough understood to be a very interesting tool for TV news producers in the future.

—Michele Greppi

October 30, 2008

Transgender Issues, Crappy Jobs in Spotlight on Election Day

The economy is in crisis, but on Nov. 4 there’ll be a far greater choice to make than Barack Obama or John McCain.

Dirty

Maury Povich will host his own vote on Election Day with a special episode that’s a little bit Carmelita from “Dirty Sexy Money.”

The big decision won’t be Democrat or Republican, but “Time to Vote! Born Man or Woman?”

Viewers in studio and at home will be able to cast their vote in the very democratic process of determining whether the transgendered candidates are men or women.

“This is probably the most important election in our country’s history ... not that the one with Barack Obama and John McCain doesn't count,” host Maury Povich joked. “Our goal, after a very long and tough presidential campaign, is just to have a little fun with our studio audience and viewers at home.”

Meanwhile, couch potatoes who prefer their election tributes with a little less daytime drama and more dirt can check out Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” on election night.

The program will air 11 “Dirty Presidents” animated segments between 8 and 11 p.m. ET uncovering the dirty work past presidents had to do before they headed into the dirty world of politics.

Did you know Abraham Lincoln was a butcher? Or that life for James Garfield was the shits when he worked as a janitor?

“With past presidents up to their eyeballs in dirt and poop, we’re helping to show that politics isn’t the only dirty job out there,” said Brad Roth, who is co-president with Mark Feldstein of Stun Creative, the agency whose graphics division, Buster, was behind the segments.

Check out video of the segments here.

But please do remember to get off the couch and vote for real.

—Vlada Gelman

(Edited to add link.)

October 26, 2008

November's Pet Project for Judge David Young

Sony Pictures Television’s “Judge David Young” is going to the dogs on Fridays during November sweeps.

Judge David Young

Starting Friday, “Young” will air special pet-themed episodes under the banner of “Thank Dog It’s Friday!” The shows will feature cases involving animals, along with segments about how to get pet-rearing information from the Humane Society of the United States, which is collaborating with the syndicated strip.

“Our partnership with the HSUS is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness of proper animal care on a national level,” executive producer Rich Goldman said. “Animal protection and pet owners’ rights are great causes that Judge David Young holds close to his heart.”

Some of the cases sniffed out for the pet episodes include a dog owner who is sued when his pit bull attacks a goat and a client claiming negligence against her dog’s groomer.

“As a long-serving board member of my local Miami-Dade Humane Society, I feel truly honored to be working with the HSUS,” Judge Young said. “I am passionate about proper treatment for animals and I’m sure that audiences will be able to see as much when they tune in to the pet-centric episodes that we taped for ‘Thank Dog It’s Friday!’”

Judge Young lives in Miami with his partner of 12 years, Judge Scott Bernstein, and Maggie, his cairn terrier-poodle mix.

--Andrew Krukowski

October 24, 2008

Looking Forward to ‘Lost’? Check This Out!

A leaked version of a new ABC promo touting the upcoming return of “Lost” hit the Internet a few days ago. But why watch a grainy, bootlegged bit of video when you can watch an officially sanctioned copy? Be on the lookout for some hidden text and lots of guns. Only three more months, “Lost”-ies….




—Josef Adalian

October 23, 2008

Does Silverman Sit-Down With Kimmel Mean They’re Together Again?

Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman haven’t publicly commented on reports that they’re back together as a couple. But fans might get a definite answer next week.

sarahsilverman.jpg




That’s because ABC today confirmed that Ms. Silverman has been booked to appear on the Oct. 30 edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

It will mark the first time Ms. Silverman has appeared on Mr. Kimmel’s show since the couple confirmed they had broken up in July. A few weeks ago, People magazine reported that the comedians had rekindled their romance—but representatives for Mr. Kimmel and Ms. Silverman declined comment.

The big question: Will Mr. Kimmel the talk show host feel compelled to ask Ms. Silverman the guest about the status of her relationship with Mr. Kimmel the boyfriend?

ABC announced Ms. Silverman’s booking in a November sweeps press release noting a slew of upcoming guests on Kimmel’s show. The Jonas Brothers and “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno also are slated to appear on the talk show, while plans are in the works for a special episode tied to the premiere of the new James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace.”

—Josef Adalian

October 17, 2008

'ET': Fun With Self Exposure

Stars Flip Out For ET

“Entertainment Tonight,” in a just-inked deal with Pure Digital Technologies, is outfitting celebrities such as Zac Efron, Jerry O’Connell and Lauren Conrad with Pure’s pocket-sized Flip Mino camcorders to shoot behind-the-scenes video footage of their daily lives. The video will then be integrated into segments of the CBS Television Distribution syndicated strip and loaded onto the show’s Web site, ETOnline.com, which will devote a special “Stars Flip Out for ET” section to the clips. While Daily Blink’s not counting on seeing footage supplied by Brangelina or LiLo and SamRo, it’s sure many of the more attention-deficient celebrities will be onboard this new venture before you can say “TMZ." Or make that "TMI."
—Tom Gilbert

October 16, 2008

‘Simpsons’ Scares Up ‘Treehouse’ Promo

“The Simpsons’” annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode is as time-honored a Halloween tradition as slutty costumes and eating too much candy. Simpson's Treehouse of Horror Retrospective

This year’s episode, airing Nov. 2 at 8 p.m., will no doubt feature the usual mayhem and gore, so Marge Simpson begs you to “please tuck in your children instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow.”

Somebody should tell Marge about a little something her network’s parent company likes to call Hulu.

Check out a promotional video for the episode featuring “Treehouses” of past behind the cut.

—Vlada Gelman

Continue reading "‘Simpsons’ Scares Up ‘Treehouse’ Promo" »

September 28, 2008

Bravo Gets ‘Swingtown’ Reruns

Swingtown

Set your DVRs to “groovy”: Bravo is giving viewers a chance to relive the 1970s. The NBC Universal-owned cable network has acquired the off-net rights to all 13 episodes of the CBS summer series “Swingtown.” The series will begin airing on Bravo later this fall. Bravo’s deal comes as CBS Paramount Network Television has been shopping “Swingtown” to various cable networks in an attempt to get a second season of the retro show. CBS hasn’t officially canceled “Swingtown,” but a renewal by the network is considered a long shot. The Bravo deal is a strict acquisition agreement brokered via CBS’ syndie division. However, optimists inside CBS Paramount are no doubt hoping that, if ratings for “Swingtown” on Bravo show some sizzle, the cable network might be convinced to begin producing original episodes. A Bravo executive, however, said the studio “is dreaming” if it thinks such a scenario will play out. The costs associated with making new episodes would be too high, and Bravo executives would likely want their first original hour to be a project that hadn’t aired on another network first. Still, if “Swingtown” does spark on Bravo, it might give other cable networks—or even CBS—an incentive to consider giving the show a second chance. As far as Blink is concerned, that would be dy-no-mite.

—Josef Adalian

September 22, 2008

Martin Name-Checks Closed Captioners

Steve Martin

Steve Martin

In one of the highlights of “The 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards,” Steve Martin presented a commemorative Emmy for writing to right a wrong he felt had been done 40 years ago to Tommy Smothers, “one of my comedy heroes.”

Mr. Smothers and his brother, Dick, fronted “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” a controversial and ahead-of-its-time CBS program that suffused variety elements with political humor that ultimately got the show canceled.

Mr. Martin, who had been hired as a writer for the show in 1967, recalled that Tommy Smothers, fearing his name would be a lightning rod, had removed his name from the list of writers who won an Emmy in 1968.

“His passion and his intelligence guided us writers, resulting in a controversial show that was perspicacious, multifarious and only sometimes placatory,” Mr. Martin said. “And believe me, I only use those words to see how closed-captioning will spell them.”

The closed-captioner didn’t even attempt “perspicacious,” and rendered “multifarious” as “multifair yus” and “placatory” as “placatory.”

That’s TelevisionWeek’s spell check for Mr. Martin.

—Michele Greppi

September 21, 2008

Staying Put

Kathy Griffin

A Lifetime spokesman assures Blink there is absolutely no truth to Friday’s rampant Internet rumors that Emmy-winning D-lister Kathy Griffin, following the lead of “Project Runway,” would also be defecting from longtime home Bravo and taking her act to the women’s network. Ms. Griffin, who just won a second Emmy for reality program for her “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” was first reported to be mulling such a move in Friday’s New York Post, which cited a “well-placed source” as saying Ms. Griffin was being lured to the Lifetime fold by the promise of a late-night talk show, among other goodies. The news, valid or not, hit the Web like paparazzi at an A-list opening, though it came as something of a shock to Bravo, which termed it “surprising, since we’ve picked her up for another season of her series.”

—Tom Gilbert

Tough Cookies

The View

For those of you who might have missed it, the ladies of ABC’s “The View” pretty much raked Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain over the coals on their Sept. 12 show, accusing him of lying about Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama in his TV ads and mercilessly pressing him about exactly how his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, intends to “reform” Washington. Well, the show paid off in spades—the edition was the fourth-most-watched in the talk fest’s history and also delivered the series’ highest-rated week in a year and a half among total viewers. Considering the political hardball these women can play, Blink thinks ABC might do well to bump George Stephanopoulos and program a special Sunday political edition of “The View” opposite “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation”—at least until the election.

—Tom Gilbert

September 14, 2008

The Buzz! on ‘Money’

Buzz! Magazine

ABC is getting into the gossip game, launching a scandal-filled magazine called Buzz! The folks at Us and Star can relax, however; Buzz! is a fictional rag that will run only as an insert in the Sept. 29 issue of a real scandal sheet, the U.S. version of OK! ABC’s marketing gurus copied the glossy gossip format pretty faithfully in a promotional stunt for “Dirty Sexy Money.” Buzz! features a screaming cover headline (“Ultimate Duel: The Dirty Sexy Money Battle Rages On”), snarky inside stories (“Patrick’s Dirty Little Secret”), a shopping page (Kara Ross flower ring, $16,055 at Bergdorf Goodman), a recipe corner (the Dirty Sexy Money martini, natch) and even a word search. The “DSM” stunt is hardly the first time ABC’s marketing team has played with reality. To hype “Lost,” the network has aired numerous fake commercials on its own air, directing viewers to any number of Web sites masquerading as something other than what they are. CBS, of course, long ago cornered the market on real self-promoting periodicals. It publishes Watch!, an Entertainment Weekly-style mag sold on newsstands that’s devoted to all things Eye-related.

—Josef Adalian

‘Bar’ Stays Raised for TNT

Pulling in 5 million people with an original drama would be a pretty good day for most cable networks, but some broadcast executives took a look at last week’s ratings for TNT’s “Raising the Bar” and saw the glass as half-empty: Viewership was down about 40% from the record-setting 7.7 million viewers the show attracted for its premiere. For TNT President Steve Koonin, however, the glass is overflowing. “I guarantee that this third week will be higher than the second week,” he said, noting the show was tracking above its estimates, which were around 4 million viewers. And viewership could be even higher when digital video recording numbers come in, he added. “Steve Bochco [executive producer of “Raising the Bar”] is thrilled with these numbers. Our ad sales people are thrilled with these numbers. The only people who are disgruntled are our competitors,” he said, adding that the show is a lock to be renewed. “It’s just a matter of when.”

—Jon Lafayette

The ‘Hole’ Truth

Hole In The Wall Promotion

Fox, promoting the official premiere Thursday night of its wacky, Japanese-derived physical competition series “Hole in the Wall,” took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago during the day. Fox dispatched teams of folks dressed up like the show’s silver-suited contestants to hand out to passersby—get this for a mnemonic device—Krispy Kreme doughnut holes. WFLD-TV, the network’s Chicago affiliate, got onboard the promotion in a big way, sending lead entertainment reporter David Viggiano (right, with tennis racquet) out on Michigan Avenue in a silver suit to file his reports from his embed with the street team. Total holes distributed in all three cities: 30,000. That breaks down to 15,000 in Gotham, 10,000 in the Windy City and, don’t you know, a mere 5,000 in ever-weight-conscious L.A.

—Tom Gilbert

‘Heroes’ Throws a Special Sort of Premiere Party

Heroes Premiere Party

Last week’s third-season premiere party for “Heroes” wasn’t just another Hollywood soiree—it was a made-for-TV event. Sure, guests downed drinks and noshed on appetizers. But NBC camera crews captured every air kiss and followed the show’s stars as they worked the red carpet. And fans were invited to sit in bleachers, creating an Oscar-like atmosphere outside the Edison, the downtown L.A. hot-spot. “Was it a contrivance? Partially. Maybe,” said John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal TV Group. “But it was a real party. Real eating and drinking was going on.” And on Sept. 22, the footage filmed that night will form the core of a one-hour prime-time special leading into the two-hour “Heroes” return. NBC Entertainment marketing chief Adam Stotsky said the party was “a means to an end”: specifically, making the show’s premiere as big an event as possible. The special will resemble the catch-up clip shows that have become common tools for network marketing departments. “It’s the necessary Cliff’s Notes, but it’s also trying to generate excitement,” Mr. Stotsky said. The special will feature “Heroes” stars serving as hosts from the party, introducing pre-taped packages tied to the show. Because the party also was a prime-time special, Sprint was an official sponsor, paying part of the costs. “Everybody’s budgets are challenged right now,” Mr. Stotsky said. “This takes something that’s a little disposable—a party—and turns it into a hard-working strategy.”

—Josef Adalian

September 11, 2008

CBS Plays Up Sex in Pair of Promos

PromosThe CBS marketing team is in the mood for a little "Sex."

To hype its new comedy “Worst Week,” CBS has crafted a promotion that’s an homage to the opening titles of HBO’s “Sex and the City.” But instead of Carrie getting splashed by that cab, “Worst” star Kyle Bornheimer gets drenched. There’s even a sound-alike version of the “Sex” theme song.

The biggest difference between the CBS promo and the “Sex” credits: Mr. Bornheimer ends up with a very visible wet spot in his crotch area, prompting laughter from a group of schoolgirls. The scene plays into the show’s theme, namely that Mr. Bornheimer’s character is forever having the worst week of his life.

CBS’ hypemeisters are also using familiar musical cues to promote another new series.

Ads now airing for “The Ex List” feature series star Elizabeth Reaser walking down a city street alongside a slew of her ex-flings, all to the tune of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Each of the exes wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a phrase—“First Kiss,” “Happened in Vegas”—describing his relationship to Ms. Reaser’s Bella Bloom. Bella, perhaps in a nod to “The Bachelorette,” also plucks petals from a flower as she prances to the musical stylings of Freddie Mercury.

You can check out the two ads behind the cut.

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September 3, 2008

Brit Poised to Make More VMA Memories

2007 VMAs

The MTV Video Music Awards announced today that Britney Spears—many of whose most memorable moments have taken place on the high-profile stage of the VMAs—will be back to lend her formidable star power to this year’s telecast, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 7.

Her appearance during the opening of the show continues a comeback for the pop star, whose personal struggles have earned more attention than her career moves in recent years. Her career appears to be back on track now, including VMA nominations this year for best female video, best pop video and video of the year for “Piece of Me.”

Ms. Spears’ notoriety over the years has typically been fueled by her provocative VMA appearances, which have included a memorable snake dance at the 2001 awards, a dominatrix outfit for her appearance with Michael Jackson in 2002 and a liplock with Madonna in 2003.

MTV cautions that this year’s Britney visit will not be a performance, but at the same time organizers are hinting that it could be another candidate for her pantheon of iconic moments. “This is an opening not to be missed,” the network chirps in its press release announcing the appearance. Two things are certain: (1) Britney’s appearance will get viewers to tune in, and (2) people will be talking about it afterward.

—Dennis R. Liff

August 26, 2008

ABC Goes Retro for ‘Life on Mars’ Promos

If you’re looking for some far-out retro promos, ABC is the place to be.

Life On Mars Retro Promo

The Alphabet network is reviving the look, the feel—even the sound—of its 1973 on-air brand in order to promote its upcoming time-travel cop show “Life on Mars.” First up: A 30-second promo that uses the “Mod Squad” theme and a vintage ABC meatball logo to get viewers in the mood for some retro crime-solving.

“The premise of the show is about a guy who wakes up and thinks he’s in 1973, and as Marla (Provencio) and I were brainstorming, we thought, ‘If we were to cut a promo in 1973, what would it look like?’,” said Mike Benson, who heads ABC marketing and promotion alongside Ms. Provencio.

Check out the promo after the cut.

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August 24, 2008

Making Amends

Zoila Chavez

Viewers of Bravo’s “Flipping Out” know that its star, stressed-out perfectionist Jeff Lewis, who buys, fixes up and resells houses for a living, is not an easy boss—in fact, the entire series is pretty much built around how outrageously trying he can be. During the season just ended, in a misguided attempt to express gratitude, he gave his long-suffering housekeeper, Zoila Chavez, a rather harshly rendered portrait of herself in a maid’s uniform—apparently the last thing in the world she wanted (and who can blame her?). But annoying though he may be, Mr. Lewis’ heart turns out to be in the right place: As the season ended, he decided to make it up to Ms. Chavez by having the network auction off the painting, promising her whatever sum it fetched. Unbelievably, the monstrosity last week pulled in a winning bid of more than $10,000 on Bravo.com—a handsome bonus for Ms. Chavez and a masterful bit of situation flipping for Mr. Lewis.

—Tom Gilbert

No Regrets

Attack of the Show

G4’s “Attack of the Show” tackles subjects such as video games, television and nerd culture. But during a recent set visit, it nearly took on the censors. “AOTS” films live daily at the Comcast Studios in Los Angeles, and while it may sound to viewers like there’s a rambunctious studio audience, it’s simply staffers and crew behind the scenes reacting to hosts Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn. At this particular show, during a pre-taped segment entitled “In Your Pants” that addressed sexual issues, sex columnist Anna David gave Ms. Munn a curt answer. Ms. Munn, watching the tape in the studio, jokingly yelled out “That [c-word]!”—an epithet people tend to severely frown upon—even though an “AOTS” director had announced seconds beforehand that the mics were hot in order to add laughter and applause to the segment. Ms. Munn’s salty language, which was met with some red faces and embarrassed titters, luckily didn’t make it to air. Ms. Munn, however, remained nonchalant about the potential gaffe—not a surprise coming from the same person who, when sarcastically asked about the romantic tension between herself and Mr. Pereira, told a room full of stony-faced critics at the Television Critics Association in July: “Well, he already put it in my ass.” “AOTS” airs weekdays at 7 p.m. on G4.

—Andrew Krukowski

August 20, 2008

‘Today’ Soaking It All in in Beijing

It was a classic “Today” show moment Wednesday morning (Wednesday night Beijing time), when Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry chose not to flee the fountains that cranked up not quite when expected.

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SPLASH ZONE "Today" anchors Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry get soaked by fountains.

Instead, they frolicked like kids with a garden hose in the backyard and tried, more or less successfully, to get the always fastidious Matt Lauer and comic relief Al Roker to go with the water flow as well.

A couple of hours later, talking to a reporter back in the States, “Today” executive producer Jim Bell comfortably conceded, “We may have gotten a little carried away there, but fortunately we recovered in time, because we still had two hours of show left.”

That meant finishing the shift in wet hair and clothes for Ms. Vieira and Ms. Curry, who also kicked off her soggy shoes and worked barefoot.

“We’re going to take up a collection and head over to the Silk Market tomorrow and see if we can’t find her a similar pair,” Mr. Bell said. “You can tell we’re getting a little loopy with the hours and being on at night. We’re clearly having a lot of fun here. The Olympics have been just a magical event this time around for everybody.”

The icing on the magical cake: Preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research indicates “Today’s” Beijing sojourn has paid off with leads of 2.5 million viewers or more over ABC’s “Good Morning America.” That’s the NBC morning show’s biggest lead in at least eight years over its closest competitor.

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August 10, 2008

The ABCs of Putting Celebrities on the Soap Box

ABC Daytime Campaign

Like the late entrepreneur Victor Kiam, who told TV commercial watchers in the ’80s that he liked Remington shavers so much he bought the company, Vincent Pastore liked “General Hospital” so much after taping a promo spot for the ABC Daytime drama that he wanted to join the cast&mdash:at least temporarily.

That was an offer ABC couldn’t refuse.

So Mr. Pastore will begin taping a one-week stint in September, playing the visiting father of mob man Max (Derk Cheetwood), a role that’s not much of a stretch given that Mr. Pastore’s mobbed-up “Sopranos” character, Big Pussy, was dispatched to sleep with the fishes after he turned government informant.

No other such guest stints have been reported with the remaining eight unlikely celebs who star in the promo campaign&mdash:ABC Daytime’s biggest in at least six years—which began rolling out last week on ABC and SoapNet and continues into September.

The spots—available for viewing below—are real attention-getters, whether it’s Mr. Pastore delivering talking points on family, loyalty, honor and vengeance or tattooed freestyle motocross “godfather” Mike Metzger talking about the high he gets from the action on “One Life to Live, “All My Children” and “GH.”

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August 7, 2008

'90210' Campaign: Behind the Hype

The CW’s just-launched on-air advertising campaign for “90210” spares no adjectives in selling the show.

In a promo subtlely called “Believe the Hype,” an announcer refers to the original “Beverly Hills, 90210” as a “show that defined a generation.” The new version? “The most anticipated premiere of the season!” (Actually, given the lack of buzz around this fall’s crop of freshman series, that claim might not be so far off.)

Given that The CW still hasn’t sent out screeners of the two-hour premiere, Blink watched the promo for you. So what can be gleaned from the 30-second ad? You’d be amazed.

—Two male characters get into a shoving match in a parking lot. Rich kids are such rebels!

—A young couple are seen in the beginning throes of passion.

—Annie (Shenae Grimes) whines about life in the Zip. “I’m in this new place where I don’t know anybody! Nobody acts like they do back home!” she says.

—Two characters dance as if they’re about to make love in this club (In this club. In this club.).

—There’s a football game. And Mean Girls walking the halls in a pack.

—Kelly sighting! “You know what these people in Beverly Hills are like,” says a still-sexy Jennie Garth.

—Two people make out in a car.

—And the character who’s not Brandon (Tristan Wilds) floats on a pool raft and says, “Everything’s going to be all right.”



The new “90210” premieres Sept. 2. Or, as The CW puts it, 9.02.

—Josef Adalian

July 25, 2008

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t

Mindfreak Bus Shelter Ad Campaign

MAGIC Criss’ reflection appears in the water at night with the help of a little backlighting.

A&E is promoting “Criss Angel Mindfreak’s” new season—in which he walks across Lake Mead—in a novel way on New York City and Los Angeles bus shelters. During the day, the ad merely shows Criss’ empty boots standing on the water. But come night, Criss’ reflection appears in the water with the help of a little backlighting. Woooo! Eerie! The ads were created by the West Hollywood-based design firm Art Machine.
—Tom Gilbert

July 6, 2008

Wherefore Lythgoe?

“American Idol” executive producer and 19 Television President Nigel Lythgoe is taking a summer holiday from TV’s No. 1 show. Mr. Lythgoe has informed Fox that he’ll be absent during the filming of most, if not all, of the show’s audition rounds. Tryouts for season eight of “Idol” begin July 17 in San Francisco.

Nigel Lythgoe

It seems Mr. Lythgoe’s other big show—“So You Think You Can Dance”—will be taking up a big chunk of his time during the summer. In addition to appearing as a judge on the U.S. version of the series, he’ll be in South Africa to help launch a local version of “Dance,” according to a 19 Television rep.

Auditions for the South African “Dance” are taking place this month, with the show due to premiere Aug. 9 on SABC-1. Further filling up Mr. Lythgoe’s dance card: The producer may contribute to the next season of the Australian version of “Dance,” which is scheduled to premiere in 2009.

Word of Mr. Lythgoe’s break has led some observers to suggest he might be preparing to scale back his involvement in the show more dramatically, or even leave it altogether. Insiders at Fox and producers 19 and FremantleMedia North America, however, said they’ve heard of no such plans and dismissed such talk as ill-informed gossip.

As for Mr. Lythgoe’s absence from the audition rounds, “Idol” insiders note that Executive Producer Ken Warwick—who, like Mr. Lythgoe, has been with the show from the start—will be on hand for the whole tryout process. What’s more, the audition episodes of “Idol” come together in editing, a process that happens in the fall and something with which Mr. Lythgoe is still scheduled to be involved.

—Josef Adalian and Chris Pursell

A Really Big Shoe(-in) for ‘Live’

RipaWhat has 1,000 legs, wears 3-inch spike heels and tiptoes at high speed through Central Park? The first of what may become an annual “High Heel-a-Thon” benefit on “Live With Regis and Kelly.” The event, which will be run, or teetered, live during Wednesday’s “Live,” will have 500 entrants—the maximum allowed under the permits the show obtained—from 40 states.

One of them will be co-host Kelly Ripa, who has been weighing which of her beloved trademark heels she could best—and most safely—run in without fear of ruining them. “You know how she falls in love with her shoes,” said “Live” Executive Producer Michael Gelman. Eleven of the competitors are men, although their ranks do not include Regis Philbin, who once proved on-air he could squeeze his feet into Ms. Ripa’s shoes. “I can convince Regis to do a lot of things, but that’s not happening,” said Mr. Gelman, who is taking an Olympics-like approach to the male entrants: They can run but they can’t hijack the $25,000 prize that goes to the first female entrant to finish the 150-yard competition.

The “High-Heel-a-Thon” will raise a minimum of $50,000 for the March of Dimes; online contributions will add to the donation. Although there will be a handful of TV cameras on the ground and the Goodyear blimp will provide aerial coverage—“just like any great sporting event,” said Mr. Gelman—this is no mere made-for-TV event.

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June 10, 2008

CBS Flies North for the Summer

FlashpointCBS will add to its roster of acronym-filled police procedurals in July with “Flashpoint,” a drama that focuses on the exploits of cops in the fictional Canadian SRU (that’s “Strategic Response Unit”) purportedly inspired by Toronto's Emergency Task Force.

After running out of U.S. cities to give the “CSI” treatment and stocking prime time to brimming with doppelgangers “NCIS,” “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case,” and “Criminal Minds,” the network has turned to the Great White North for its latest iteration in a pathologically forensic lineup.

“Flashpoint,” premiering Friday, July 11, on CBS at 10 p.m., stars Ona Grauer and native Canadians Hugh Dillon (“Degrassi”) and Enrico Colantoni (“Just Shoot Me”) as Ontario’s answer to SWAT.

Clip below.

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June 9, 2008

CBS Goes to the Dogs

DogsHave you ever channel-surfed aimlessly, hoping you’ll stumble onto some bitch fights?

Thanks to CBS’ new summer schedule, you can stop that aimless surfing and tune in to “Greatest American Dog.”

The competition series pits a dozen dog-and-owner teams against each other in a series of talent competitions for a chance at $250,000. Sneak peek clip, including dogs on skateboards, pooches in legwarmers and canine tattoos, after the jump.

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June 2, 2008

Philbin’s Making Another ‘Million’

PasswordIt’s possible that you can get Regis Philbin to show up for a hosting gig just by sticking the word “million” in the title.

If “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and now “Million Dollar Password” are any indication, then maybe “My Cousin’s Junior High Graduation Party Million” or “Home Videos of My Million Cats” aren’t far behind.

On Sunday night, CBS brought back the first episode of the old “Password” game show for its fourth go-round (it was revived twice previously, in the ’70s and the ’80s) as “Million Dollar Password,” with a jacked-up jackpot and celebrity contestants.

Authentic Television Personalities(TM) Neal Patrick Harris and Rachael Ray appeared on the premiere. Still to come are Philbin favorite Rosie O’Donnell and “Brothers and Sisters” star Steven Weber.

Reege began developing the show last year, and, as usual, he can hardly contain his excitement, as seen in this behind-the-scenes clip, after the jump.

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May 27, 2008

NBC a Sure Bet

Law & OrderAre you a gambling man? Try placing a wager the next time you turn on NBC.

Last week, “Dateline,” and episodes from the “Law & Order” series composed 630 minutes of NBC’s 1,320 minutes of weekly prime-time broadcast.

That means a single random minute of NBC during the week of May 18 had a 48% chance of being either “Dateline” or something from “L&O.”

Ditch the coin flip next time. Just flip on NBC and if Jack McCoy or Ann Curry appears, somebody just won a bet.

Andrew Krukowski